Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Producing your own garden:

Last spring we made the decision to begin our own Herb and Vegetable garden from scratch. What seemed to be “simply” one more thing added to the list has definitely been a learning experience for us. After “careful” planning, consulting, and purchasing of plants we quickly realized that gardening takes patience and dedication.
     The first year we planted everything slightly late and thought things were going really well, but the weeds took over and we realized that our soil structure was not the greatest for our garden.  We spent this past fall trying to improve the soil by adding aerification plugs and grass clippings to help aide in soil structure.
   This year we felt more prepared and by early spring the garden was prepped and ready for a great season.  Spring started out very well with our plants quickly rooting and what seemed to have had good growth, but something still looked off as the vegetables and plants looked stunted compared to others in the area.  Luckily we had a good rapport with a master gardener who thought we needed to have more soil/ compost to give the soil the ability to retain more moisture and nutrients, thus allowing a healthier and more robust plant.  
     My recommendation would be that if you are getting ready to plant a garden, to go ahead and get your soil tested for not only heavy metals and nutrients, but your soil structure.   It would also be beneficial to build a relationship with your local master gardeners prior to planting your garden.  There is a lot of good literature, apps, and how-to-guides for gardeners, but there’s no one more knowledgeable than your local gardeners.  These folks can minimize your headaches by guiding you to proper varieties, plants, and resources to making your garden a success.  
In the end, we were able to add a granular form of humus and organic matter to alter the nutrient holding capacity of the soil directly associated with the plant.  The amount of vegetables we have pulled has been slightly less than average, but the second half of the season we have been very fortunate in our yield.   This year we are pulling cantaloupes in excess of 10 lbs. regularly.  

-Written by: Tony Oxley 
Victoria National Horticulturist

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